The View From 3rd Base :: My Life as a Little League Coach

Father’s Day is just days away, and this week a few Houston dads have graciously contributed their thoughts on parenting. Today, Victor Y., husband of Houston Moms Blog’s own contributor Kathrynshares how coaching his son’s Little League teams has made him a better father.

The Dads Take Over | Houston Moms Blog

10,000 baseball cards. Maybe more. I’ve been collecting trading cards since I was 12 years old when a childhood friend showed off Kelly Gruber’s 1992 card with the Toronto Blue Jays. In that iconic photo, with his arms slung over the bat resting on his neck, joy and confidence radiated from Kelly’s face. I was intrigued.

Admittedly, I played a limited amount of baseball growing up. Being of Italian and Venezuelan heritage, soccer is in my blood and it was my sport for 6 years. That all changed a few months later when I attended my first professional baseball game at the Houston Astrodome.

The Astros were up against the St. Louis. Andres Galarraga, also from Venezuela, was playing 1st base for the Cardinals. I can’t remember the score that day, but I remember the hunger. I came home from that trip and asked to switch to baseball immediately.

I didn’t get to play for very long; a move to the United States meant baseball would be in the late evenings and on weekends. I had to drop out but it didn’t matter. Instead, I became a baseball aficionado, glued to the radio, writing my own stats, collecting every baseball movie and book I could. I am a baseball expert and novice, all at once.

Little League coach and boyHow I Started Coaching

Although I always wished to get back into playing baseball, I had never imagined myself coaching a team. When my youngest son started having trouble focusing in school, my wife and I decided sports were in order. Just 9 years old at the time, his only sport-like activities were racing through hallways and taking things apart. 

I knew that my son’s endless energy and brilliant IQ made him a great candidate for baseball, but those same qualities made him hard to teach- and maybe hard to coach. I went to that first parents’ meeting with my glove, completely unsure of what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised that his team needed another coach. I was in!

Winning & Losing

I spent my first year coaching as a bench-warmer. As the dugout coach, my main job was to pay attention to the line up and make sure the kids were getting ready to go to bat. My son and I were placed on a Little League team stacked with great players and an excellent head coach. After losing 3 of our first 4 games, we steamrolled our way to a 16-4 finish and got ourselves a spot in the finals. We lost that game; the kids were heartbroken. To work so hard, then fall one game short is a tough pill to swallow. 

The next year, I moved up to 3rd base where I found my footing. Talking strategy to players and waving runners to third, it was definitely more exciting than rooting from the dug out. The kids were not as baseball savvy and almost half of them had never played before we stumbled onto the field. I like to think I taught them not only technical skills but the love of the game. After the dust settled, we finished the season 4-10. We may have ended at the bottom of the league but we definitely had the most fun.

Not Just A Game

This year’s loss was not as hard to take- not because I had prepared myself but because of the amazing growth I saw in each and every player. My son is more focused and more confident. A player on our team went from not knowing what a pitcher is to becoming our strike-out man. One of our girls, a professional butterfly-chaser, became a stealthy base-stealer and was named by our team as The Flash.

Next year, my son will move up the 11-12 year age bracket, among kids who have been playing Little League years longer than him. I hope to lead my own team next year, as the head coach. I am not at all worried.

Each game, each year of coaching Little League has taught me something new; how to have more patience and how to teach kids to wait… how to be a good sport whether you’re winning or losing. Coaching Little League has made me a better father and strengthened the bond I have with the 4-foot tornado I call my son. 

If you are a parent who loves baseball {and even if you don’t} I encourage you to become a Little League coach. Memories and life lessons are found in hard things. Your players are waiting. 

 


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